all set for Málaga!
Remember the good old days when Real Madrid was a football club and not a soap opera with daily episodes? I miss those days too, when we could concentrate on football.
This is all the drama I can take right now: Cris arriving late for the concentración and speeding down the ramp, causing Ricardo Carvalho’s paternal instincts to kick in. He was probably thinking, just when we got Marcelo and Karim Benzema off of the streets…
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. Valladolid.
Let’s take a look back at this game, as what happened after it will be relevant for things discussed later on in the post. Prior to the game, there was a big round of applause when Cristiano’s name was announced, another ovation when Iker’s name was announced, and some whistles when José Mourinho’s name was announced. The team also received an ovation when they applauded the fans for their support in the game against Dortmund prior to the starting whistle. We also had everyone on the bench looking positively adorable, and later on in the game, Cristiano stroking Fabio Coentrão’s head.
Besides the goals from Cristiano and Kaká (look at them – they’re holding hands!)…
… there was also the whole storm over Pepe’s statements. After the game, he told Canal Plus, “with regards to Iker, you have to have a bit more respect, we are all players who want the best for the club… in my point of view, the statements of the míster weren’t the most appropriate. Iker is part of Madrid, he’s an institution for Madrid and for Spain, the most important thing is for Iker to be tranquil, and to know that the players and the fans are with him.”
Then in the mixed zone, he said, “Iker is an important player for us, and we still have the final of the Copa ahead of us. All of the players are important in this moment. There’s no need to slight anyone, especially Iker, who is a symbol in Madrid… We have to respect Iker, for all that he has done, he has given a lot to us and we don’t want Iker to be the bad guy in all of this, so we have to give Iker affection because he needs it, because he’s a fundamental player for me and for the club, a symbol of Madrid for all the players who come here.”
The press interpreted those statements as Pepe breaking completely with Mou, his “defender,” to side with Iker. And Mou had a simple explanation for why Pepe did it, as we will see later on in the post.
Mini The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
All set for Málaga!
The team trained twice to prepare for tonight’s midweek game against Málaga (21:30h). During the last training session, Cristiano had to receive a bit of treatment, as MFC ABMM inadvertently caused a gash in his ankle, to match the ones on his right shin. Poor Cris. I wonder if ABMM was too busy looking at Cris’ legs to notice that he was doing damage to them?
And once again, José Mourinho caused a storm with his statements during the press conference. I am so tired of this. He also gave a lecture when asked about Iker Casillas, rather than a response. The only moments of levity were when microphone refused to work at the beginning of the press conference, and when it faded out in the middle, and Mou pretended to leave the press room. Here are the highlights.
On why Pepe defended Iker: it’s very easy to analyze. His problem has a name, and that name is Raphaël Varane. There’s nothing more to that.
On whether he has considered resigning: I have planned to continue.
On what happened with Iker Casillas: (interrupts the journalist) for the last time, let’s see if you all will understand. I’m a football coach. I was hired to be a football coach and a football coach has powers, one of which is deciding who to play. I choose who plays. I don’t do it by flipping a coin where heads means Coentrão plays and tails means Marcelo plays. I don’t flip a coin to decide whether Modrić or Xabi Alonso plays. I do it by having discussions and analyzing my decisions for many hours, as well as watching games. I try to decide in accordance with what’s in my head. And I like Diego López better as a goalkeeper than Iker Casillas. It’s as simple as that. I have no personal problems with him, it’s not a decision I make with the objective of harming anyone, I just like (Diego López) more. I like a goalkeeper who plays well with his feet, I like a goalkeeper who defends well against crosses, I like a goalkeeper who dominates the air. Iker is phenomenal between the posts, he makes incredible saves between the posts. But I prefer goalkeepers with another type of profile.
It would be the same for Iker to come here tomorrow and say that he likes Del Bosque as a coach more, or one with another type of profile, or a coach like… who else has he had here? Pellegrini. Or he can say that he would like a more manageable coach, I don’t know who, a more offensive one than Mourinho, a more defensive one than Mourinho. It’s rightful to say this. And I as a coach can say I like this goalkeeper more, and as long as I’m the coach of Real Madrid, Diego López will always play under normal conditions. It’s as simple as that, there’s nothing more to it.
People can say what they want afterward, that Mourinho doesn’t understand anything about football, that Casillas is better than Diego López 20 times over. I understand this and I accept it. But please respect a coach who decides that Diego López, Nacho, Varane, Albiol and Fábio Coentrão will play; now you know the defense for tomorrow. That’s my decision, for Varane and Albiol to play, for Nacho to play, for Coentrão to play, for Diego López to play. Why? Nacho is playing because at this moment I am liking how he plays, he’s developing well and I want to give him an opportunity. Varane is playing because he’s the future of Real Madrid, the Varane-Ramos pairing is the future of Madrid. Albiol is playing because I believe he deserves it, he had a great game against Atlético de Madrid and I have very much confidence in him. Fábio is playing because right now I have no other option because Marcelo is not here. And Diego is playing because for me he’s the best. It’s as simple as that. You or any another madridista have the right to say míster, you are wrong, Casillas is much better than Diego López. I accept that. Whatever you say, I accept. But you also have to accept that I’m the coach of Real Madrid. Period.
Another question. (Protests from the journalists) I responded well, 10 minutes for that response.
On Pepe: I’m only talking about Pepe because you asked me to speak about him. I wasn’t going to discuss Pepe. You don’t have to be very intelligent, you only have to be a normal person like me or almost all of you in this room [ja, that little dig!] to know that he was speaking out of frustration. It’s not easy for a 31-year-old man, with a status and a past, to be steamrolled by a 19-year-old kid. But that’s life. The kid has been great. And who had the courage to put in the kid? Me. It’s very simple. Pepe’s sporting life has changed, he was an undisputed starter and now he has stopped being that. It was another of my decisions, one of my few decisions that wasn’t discussed in public, because all of my decisions have been publicly discussed. Why isn’t Higuaín playing, why is Benzema playing, why is this one playing, why isn’t this one playing… I understand this frustration perfectly. For me, it’s very clear. I have no problems with him, I understand that it’s not an easy situation but I try at least to be honest and I think there are not many who believe that Madrid’s future defense is not Varane with Sergio Ramos.
(Back to me) I agree that Mou has the right to field whoever he wants, but he should keep the reasoning behind his decisions private, and not air them in public. I don’t see why he feels the need to justify anything when it’s clear that he could care less what the press thinks.
Unsurprisingly, Pepe was not called up for the game. Previously, Mou had disagreements with the likes of Pedro León, Iker, Sergio and Cristiano, and failed to call them up for the next game. Fabinho was the novelty on the list.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Diego López, Adán.
Defenders: Varane, Albiol, Coentrão, Carvalho, Nacho, Fabinho.
Midfielders: Kaká, Özil, Xabi Alonso, Essien, Modric, Callejón, Di María.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín.
Sergio has been busy taking in sporting events over the last several days. He spent Sunday, a free day, in Jerez de la Frontera to watch the MotoGP race. During this time, he was interviewed by Telecinco, and the amusing interview went something like this:
Is Mou leaving or staying? (Laughs) I’m here to to speak about motos and not about football. These are personal decisions that each person makes. That was a great gesture from you, putting on Özil’s shirt… We have great racers: Dani, Márquez, Pedrosa [Dani again?], Álvaro, I’m a big fan of Valentino… I hope everyone enjoys this day. You do support Iker, no? That’s nothing new. Motos, motos, motos again. Forza Iker? Always.
On Monday, he was at the Caja Mágica to watch his “great friend” Feli López take on Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the Mutua Madrid Open. He sat with Sergio Rodríguez and his brother René, and many other members of the basketball team, such as Jaycee Carroll, Don Draper, Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernández, were also in the same box. Sergio (Ramos) told La Sexta that he plays tennis when he has free time as it’s one of his favorite sports, and that’s he’s recovering from his injury. Regarding Iker, “we’ve been friends for a very long time, not only teammates, and we obviously have a friendship from the time we’ve spent together on the national team and Real Madrid, and it’s obvious that he has gone through a difficult time, and I support him like I would support any teammate, and it’s good for us to support each other and for there to be a union between us players, and also with the coach, because we all have the same objectives.” With Sergio, everything is one sentence!
On Mother’s Day, we had Marcelo and Álvaro Arbeloa sharing these photos of them with their mothers. Adorable all around! And look at Álvaro’s mischievous face!
While attending a FIFA Interactive World Cup event in Madrid, Raúl Albiol spoke with the press, but interrupted himself when he saw that one of the finalists in the videogame competition had scored a goal using Xabi Alonso. El Chori laughed, “whatever, Xabi Alonso never scores!” Raúl also revealed that “Sergio plays FIFA13 but he’s not very good at it. Before, we played a war game, but I got tired of him always wanting to be the hero, he took all the munitions, all the weapons and shot everyone. I told him, if you want, I’ll let you play by yourself and I’ll just stand here clapping for you. And Gonzalo, he’s the funnest of them all, with that typical Argentine personality, but he never beats me.” Jajaja!!!!!
While in Colombia, Vicente del Bosque said of Iker Casillas, “both Iker and I are sons of Real Madrid, although some don’t realize it or don’t want to realize it. A good madridista should love Casillas.”
Alfredo di Stéfano’s five children have petitioned the courts to declare their father incapacitated due to the “obvious deterioration of his physical and intellectual capabilities over the past several months.” Their petition went on to say, “considering his actual state of vulnerability, in addition with his fame, there could be abusive behavior against him, which is what we want to try and avoid with this petition, where our intent is to protect his, and our family’s, image and honor.” I’m sure no one was surprised at this turn of events. According to El Mundo in a follow-up article, ADS only announced that he wanted to marry Gina because his children forbade him from seeing her, and now they have also apparently cut off all access to him. Another soap opera…
And we got a new Karim Benzema photo! Look at that right hand – it’s obvious that he was just about to do one of his cheesy poses, but the photographer snapped the photo too quickly, and Karim didn’t have a chance, allowing our eyes to be saved.
Castilla beat Murcia 2-0 over the weekend to move themselves further out of the relegation zone. The goals were scored by Jesé and Álex (off of a penalty). By scoring in this game, Jesé equaled Emilio Butragueño’s record for most goals scored by a Castilla player in the second division, 21 (El Buitre set it in the 1983-84 season, when Castilla ended up winning the second division). Jesé has five more games to make the record his own (if they use more hugs like this one from MFC ABMM as incentive, I’m sure Jesé will break the record!).
And look who was at the game – Marcelo and Agustín! Miguel Pardeza was there as well, but I just don’t get as excited for him as I do for Marcelo and Agustín. I’m sure you are the same.
Meanwhile, two of our players who took part in the Copa de Campeones, Antonio Adán and José Callejón, sent out a message of support to the Juvenil A team who was taking part in this tournament (it determines the best team in Spain in the category, the División de Honor; Juvenil A had won Group V. Madrid ended up losing 1-4 in the quarterfinals to Celta and is out). Antonio and José took part in the 2005-06 edition, when both players were “demoted” from RMC to play with the Juvenil team. Antonio said it was fantastic to meet up with old teammates and be part of the team, that they were accepted well and that was what made them champions. I always enjoy seeing old photos!